Red Nova: The Week That Was

Red Nova IconDespite my tendency to not frequently post to the blog here as much as I’d like, I figured I should probably post something about the launch of Red Nova seeing as it’s been out for a whole week. This isn’t exactly a post-mortem, but it’ll be nice to talk about how the launch went.

Cutting to the chase, the launch exceeded my expectations with the game racking up a number of impressive reviews from a bunch of review sites including TouchArcade, 148Apps and AppSpy (which I shall present at the end of the post). Sales for the first few days were also suitably impressive but due to a number of big-name launches on Thursday (expected) and EA lowering the price on over 60 of their games to $0.99 (unexpected!) enough noise was created to effectively put a damper on things. I knew I could probably weather Thursday’s big launch announcements because not all of those games would be at the same price point, but I’m fairly certain between pushing other apps down the ranks along with Red Nova and the $0.99 price point the EA sale had a negative effect on the launch.

In the below graphs, green represents Arcade, red Action and blue All Games.

iPhone US Chart

US iPhone Chart: This is a graph of both excitement and disappointment

Backed by a number of positive reviews the game shot up the charts, even briefly hitting 156 (or so) in the Top 200 iPhone Games on the US App Store. It hit 44 in Arcade and very nearly hit 50 in Action games as well. I even suspect if this wasn’t such a volatile time on the App Store those rankings would have probably been a bit stickier, and with hindsight being 20/20 there are definitely some downsides to launching during the holidays. However it’s entirely possible that had I not launched when I did things may have played out differently in other unpredictable ways and I can’t exactly take the launch back, so there’s no sense wasting time wondering what could have been. Also, the holidays aren’t even over yet, Red Nova is moving around in quite a few iPad charts, is seeing some good movement in Germany and Japan on the iPhone, and I may have an ace or two left up my sleeve so who knows what could happen in a week’s time ;)

iPad US Chart

US iPad Chart: The term "rollercoaster" comes to mind here

All that being said, I knew the risks of launching this time of the year and even if you could potentially call the sale an unfair move, business is business and I’d rather focus on all the positive things that came out of the launch instead of things I can not change. This is definitely a beginning, and a pretty damn good one at that.

Special thanks, as always, to Dave Frampton for the ever-awesome (and free) MajicRank.

Red Nova Review Roundup

Red Nova received a number of reviews in the first week. Most of which were overwhelmingly positive, and even the more negative reviews hit a lot of the good points so I think in this respect I’m off to a great start. I think my favorite part is how most of the sites caught on to the different things I was trying to bring to the table with the game’s unique control scheme that I designed for the ground up to be less frustrating (though by its nature less intuitive) than what we’ve seen in action games on iOS thus far.

TouchArcade – I’d call this one overwhelmingly positive. I couldn’t have hoped for a better review. “It has an interesting premise, one of the smartest control schemes I’ve seen, Game Center integration for high score bragging rights, and above all else it’s just a blast to play.”

AppSpy – Can’t go wrong with “almost flawless”. Also I believe this is my first video review ever, which was pretty exciting. “Red Nova may only be limited to the single gameplay mode, but its execution is almost flawless and perfectly suited for all iDevices.”

148Apps – A mostly positive review but Ben definitely put the game under the microscope. I don’t think that’s a bad thing as the only way to improve is to know where your flaws are. “From the superb control scheme to all of the small enhancements mentioned earlier in the review it is clear that Red Nova is, indeed, a very professional product.”

Slide to Play – Slide to Play gave the game a 2/4, which is not awful, but I have it on good authority it was very nearly a 3. A goal to strive for with future Episodes I think! “Red Nova has some interesting ideas, but they don’t always work out the way they should.”

Simple-Reviews – Definitely can’t go wrong with a 4.5/5. “Red Nova is a must have game for anyone who loves space shooter type games!”

Oaggle – Definitely seemed to really dig the game! “It’s well worth the $0.99, and I’d even say that it is a must have.”

Wifivoltage – Short but sweet review. “I’m not into making big gaming reviews, all I know is that I only bother to do some when I find something I really like and well… I did this one so, go get it!”

Meet – A pretty big Japanese website that gave the game a 3.5/5. I had trouble translating it but it seems that they had some trouble getting the shields to work correctly but otherwise they appear to like it! I suspect the control difficulty could be chalked up to the language barrier, but that’s only speculation at this point.

Touch my Apps – Not exactly a review, but Touch my Apps included Red Nova in a list of “10+ New App Store Games To Watch” which is pretty awesome, I’d say!

13 thoughts on “Red Nova: The Week That Was

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Celsius Game Studios » Red Nova: The Week That Was -- Topsy.com

  2. Luke Rogers

    Hi Colin,
    Thanks for sharing all this info – very interesting indeed! I’m intrigued as to whether you submitted your app for review to all the websites that reviewed it?
    Thanks,
    Luke

  3. Colin Post author

    Luke Rogers :

    Hi Colin,
    Thanks for sharing all this info – very interesting indeed! I’m intrigued as to whether you submitted your app for review to all the websites that reviewed it?
    Thanks,
    Luke

    Out of all the reviews so far, I didn’t put in a request at AppSpy, Meet, Wifivoltage or Oaggle. That being said I’ve already sent out over 25 of my promo codes already and contacted even more than that many additional sites to see if I could garner any more reviews leading up to launch day.

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  6. Rourke

    Thanks for posting about your experiences with the Red Nova launch. Honestly, I think this just solidifies my earlier sentiment that you can grovel all you want on Twitter and spend countless hours sucking up RT’s and dev fanfare but its all relatively unimportant in the end. Even getting picked up by TouchArcade has little effect if your game lacks market appeal. In a world of 300k apps, I think you’re going to have to be a little more creative than coming out with a “space shooter” or a “match 3″ (Read: Linkoidz) in order to make a real push on the charts; even if your games, such as Red Nova and Linkoidz, are beautifully done.

  7. Colin Post author

    Rourke :

    Thanks for posting about your experiences with the Red Nova launch. Honestly, I think this just solidifies my earlier sentiment that you can grovel all you want on Twitter and spend countless hours sucking up RT’s and dev fanfare but its all relatively unimportant in the end. Even getting picked up by TouchArcade has little effect if your game lacks market appeal. In a world of 300k apps, I think you’re going to have to be a little more creative than coming out with a “space shooter” or a “match 3″ (Read: Linkoidz) in order to make a real push on the charts; even if your games, such as Red Nova and Linkoidz, are beautifully done.

    I think perhaps you’re being a bit premature. I can’t speak for other developer’s experiences obviously, but I’ve definitely done more than just “grovel” on Twitter and get TouchArcade coverage. Certainly I can only do so much on my own but I’ve spent quite a lot of time strategizing and planning to create a good starting point for Red Nova and I more than expect it to go further than this. Apart from the less than ideal timing of the launch, I’ve created a ton of positive interest in the game from many high-profile sites which is going to be essential in growing my audience as the game develops.

    You have valid points for sure, but rest assured I’ve been aware of and attempting to avoid many of the mistakes that small developers make when trying to establish themselves on the App Store.

    As I say in the post, this is just the beginning, and Red Nova isn’t just another space shooter. Hopefully I’ll be able to prove that right in the coming months.

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  10. Colin Post author

    strider2k :

    What are the many mistakes small developers make when trying to establish themselves on the App Store?

    I should say that not all small developers make them, but many do and I definitely did with the release of my first game. I won’t go into too much depth here as this could (and probably will) be a blog post of its own.

    Basically though:

    1. Assume that you can just throw up your app on the app store and people will flock to it. Even if it is the best app or game ever, nobody is going to be able to find it unless they know about it and until you reach a critical mass of word of mouth advertising you’re gonna have to work your butt off.

    2. Don’t just make your app ready for sale the moment you get that email from Apple, no matter how much you’re busting out of your seams wanting to get it out on the store. Set a release date and start sending out those promo codes and contacting sites about your game and let them know when it’s going to be out. The launch day of your app is very important and the bigger an impact you can make on that day the better off you are.

    3. The actual date you set is important too. I think in a way I made a bit of a mistake here releasing so close to Christmas, but the timing in other respects worked really well for me. Despite the thrashing later last week Red Nova is rebounding in the ranks and I’m happy with how things went overall.

    4. Have a strategy not just for release but leading up for release. Try and build buzz and capitalize on early feedback before you release. Obviously this is your game and not every suggestion is a good one for that game but don’t ignore good advice when it’s staring you in the face.

    5. This is kind of a re-hash of #1, but I can’t stress this enough. Developing the game is only about half the work in actually releasing something on the App Store (or anywhere else like Steam for that matter). Apple is not going to do your work for you and the only way you’re going to succeed is through what I like to call my four word motto for success: hard god damned work.

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